Play It Again: Holiday Inn. By Jess Lomas.
Play It Again is a weekly feature in which classic-film connoisseur Jess Lomas revisits a revered motion picture from the annals of movie history, to see if it holds up … or if it has aged terribly. And yes, it takes its name from a famously misquoted Casablanca line (hey, whatever; it fits!).
‘It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…’ There really was no other way to start this post, but it’s fitting considering one of the stars of this week’s Play It Again film later covered the famously festive song. I’m talking, of course, about Bing Crosby and his 1942 Christmas classic Holiday Inn.
Crosby stars in the Mark Sandrich (Top Hat) directed Holiday Inn opposite the light-footed Fred Astaire as Jim Hardy and Ted Hanover respectively. Together with Lila Dixon (Virginia Dale), they are a popular musical act preparing to perform their last show on Christmas Eve before Jim and Lila marry and retire to the countryside.
At the eleventh hour, Lila decides she loves Ted and decides to stay on as his dance partner. Broken hearted Jim follows through with the plan to move to the country, but after a year of hardship he transforms his farm into Holiday Inn, a festive venue open only on the holidays. Joining Jim at his new venue is Linda Mason (Marjorie Reynolds), who longs to be in show business.
At the same time the Holiday Inn launches, we discover Lila has left Ted and he is in search of a new dance partner. With Linda looking to be the perfect replacement for Lila, will Ted double cross his friend once again and steal his leading lady?
With music by Irving Berlin, the film has twelve original songs including its most famous, White Christmas, the popularity of which prompted the film of the same name in 1954 (also starring Crosby). That’s not the only thing this film was responsible for inspiring however, as, you guessed it, the Holiday Inn chain of hotels were named in tribute to this movie.
Despite the now controversial use of blackface in one of the musical numbers, the rest of the film is a holiday delight not just at Christmas but all year round. With Crosby’s vocals and Astaire’s dancing, you don’t get more Old Hollywood for Christmas than Holiday Inn.
Discuss: Holiday Inn!